The Exhibition in Zaragoza | The way to the throne

The way to the throne

This room is concerned with Jigme Namgyel's gradual pacification of the country at the end of the 19th century, which finally led to the establishment of a hereditary monarchy in 1907.

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In the second half of the 19th century, after the decline of the central rule of the theocracy, Jigme Namgyel (1825-1881), the master of the tongsa dzong, established himself as the most powerful regional ruler of Bhutan. Jigme Namgyel was a descendant of Pema Lingpa, one of the most revered saints in Bhutan. The tutelary deity Mahakala appeared to Jigme Namgyel in the shape of a raven, as it had already done to the first founder of the state. The deity urged him to restore Bhutan's former unity and assured him of divine support in all confrontations. Jigme Namgyel succeeded in becoming the most powerful ruler of the country by means of war, a clever policy of alliances and by appointing his relatives to key positions of power. Soon after he had handed over the reign to his son Ugyen Wangchuck (1862-1926) the country was at peace again for the first time since the 17th century. Ugyen Wangchuck consolidated his father's alliances. He forged close bonds with the British in India, who saw him as the factual ruler of Bhutan. On 17th December 1907 the most powerful local rulers, the representatives of the monastic community and of the people congregated. They nominated Ugyen Wangchuck to be the first king of a hereditary monarchy.